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H.H. Khenpo Jigme Phuntsho A Tribute and a Translation Phuntsho, Karma 2004-12

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 H.H. Khenpo Jigme Phuntsho: A Tribute and a Translation
Karma Phuntsho'
With the demise of Khenpo Jigme Phuntsho Jungnye on the
evening of 6 January 2004, the Buddhist world lost one of its
greatest luminaries and Tibet one of her foremost leaders.
Aged 70, Khenpo Jigphun had been admitted to the 363
Military Hospital in Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan
province with heart problems on 29 December 2003. He has
been suffering from ill health for a number of years and also
from the pressure of Chinese restriction on his movements
and religious activities.
Most of us who have come across Khenpo Jigphun may
remember him as the formidable lama who hung his rosary
on his ears and held his puppy at his chest even when he met
the Dalai Lama. But to the thousands of Tibetan Buddhists,
whose life he has shaped and whose hearts his message
touched, Khenpo was a modern day Manjushri walking in
human flesh. A scholar, monk and gter ston, Khenpo Jigphun
was a champion of Buddhist revival in Tibet following the
liberalization of religious practice in 1980.
Khenpo Jigphun was born in 1932, the third day of the first
month of Water Bird year in the Golok Sertar region of Kham,
where the open expanse of grasslands bestrewn with yaks
and nomadic tents render a landscape that is both stupefying
and enlightening. His biographers have it that he came out of
his mother's womb in a meditation posture and recited as
soon as he was born the mantra of Majushri, Om ah ra pa tsa
na dhi, the mantra which he was to chant over 13 billion
times throughout his life. He adopted Majushri as his
personal deity and he is said to have had visions of him
several times including one in 1987 when he visited
Wutaishan, the holy mountain abode of Majushri in China.
Like most of his visionary experiences, this event unfolded
Cambridge University
 with an extemporaneous hymn of celebration. Such acts of
extemporary composition or revelation of religious teachings,
dgong gter or Mind Treasure marked his entire life making
him the foremost gter ston of modern times.
He was recognized in 1937 as the reincarnate of Terton
Sogyal alias Lerab Lingpa (1856-1926), the Nyingma guru of
the 13th Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatsho and became a monk at
Nubzur Gonpa, a branch of the Palyul monastery in Sertar.
However, he received his formal religious training at
Changma Rithro in Dzachukha under Thubga Rinpoche
undergoing much hardship. Finishing his education, he
became the abbot of Nubzur at the age of twenty-four but his
religious career was soon interrupted by the Chinese invasion
of Tibet. Following the occupation, many of Khenpo's people
succumbed to the severe famine that resulted from Mao's
policy of Great Leap Forward. By 1959, the revolutionary
spirit of the Red army escalated into the madness of the
Cultural Revolution, a tragedy that wiped out almost the
entire cultural heritage and religious civilization of Tibet.
Compulsory lessons on Communist ideology replaced
religious training, political denunciation sessions took place
instead of religious gatherings and communal farming
supplanted the traditional way of life.
Khenpo however succeeded in eluding the Chinese authorities
throughout the tumultuous period herding a small flock of
goats and sheep in remote mountains, engaging in meditation
and teaching Buddhism to a small circle during the nights.
Despite all their efforts, the Communist officials could not
bring Khenpo to a denunciation stand to publicly renounce
his religious faith and accept the party lines. According to a
story, when the Chinese caught Khenpo, his face
miraculously swelled, which the Chinese authorities feared to
have been caused by some infectious disease and thus let
Khenpo return to the remote mountains. Another story
reports Khenpo's power to make himself invisible whenever
the Chinese soldiers came in search of him.
 With the relaxation of religious restriction at end of 1970s,
Khenpo resumed his religious activities of teaching and
writing. A major educational achievement was the founding of
Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in 1978 in Sertar with the aim
of providing an ecumenical training in Tibetan Buddhism.
The slopes of Larung Gar were soon hosts to a rapidly
expanding shanty town built by the community of disciples
who flocked around him. Registered as an educational
establishment rather than as a monastery, Larung Gar
became a renowned hub of Buddhist scholarship. At its
height in the turn of this millennium, it had close to 10,000
monks and nuns, and produced hundreds of young erudite
Khenpos who spread Khenpo's teachings far and wide. The
monastic sprawl spread over hills with its three quartiers for
lay disciples, nuns and monks each forming a community on
its own. Almost two thirds consisted of nuns and Khenpo's
niece, Muntsho, who was recognised as a sprul sku, headed
the nuns.
A very committed monk, Khenpo also undertook in 1980s a
project of 'cleansing' Buddhist institutions by evicting from
his centre all corrupt monks and nuns, and persons who
betrayed their teachers during the Cultural Revolution.
Simultaneously, Khenpo travelled extensively across Tibet
and China teaching Buddhism and rediscovering hidden
treasures. In 1989, Khenpo left China to visit India at the
invitation of H.H. Penor Rinpoche. During his visit to India he
taught at various monasteries, including the Nyingma
Institute in Mysore. At Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama resumed
the connections they had in their previous lives by receiving
teachings from Khenpo for a couple weeks.
It was during this trip that Khenpo's entourage also made a
brief sojourn to Bhutan. In the midst of a sgrub chen in
Kyichu Lhakhang, conducted by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse
Rinpoche and attended by His Majesty and The Royal Queen
Mother, Khenpo had one of his spontaneous revelations of
dgongs gter. The 'rediscovered' tract is a discourse of seven
verses praising Bhutan, her King and the people in an elegant
 and vibrant poetry. It also touches on Bhutan's future
prospects in a figurative style that is typical of gter ma
prophecies. Ever since, Khenpo had been an ambassador for
Bhutan speaking highly of the beautiful country, the pious
people and the rich and thriving Buddhist culture. Many
Bhutanese monks have become his disciples and one, Lam
Nidup of Shingkhar, has even become a well-known person in
Khenpo's centre.
The following year, Khenpo toured Europe and North America
at the invitation of Buddhist centres there. However, the
sophisticated and materialistic West did not appeal to his
deeply spiritual inclinations. While on the West Coast,
Khenpo is reported to have even broken down in tears in
middle of his sermon, lamenting the commercialization of
Buddhist teachings in the West. The act of imparting
profound teachings such as Dzogchen by selling tickets
saddened him beyond all measure.
On his return to Tibet, Khenpo came under constant Chinese
government scrutiny and surveillance allegedly for the link he
had made with the Dalai Lama during his trip to India. Beside,
the number of his Han disciples gradually increased as
devotees from mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong
Kong poured in. Of almost 10,000 followers in 2001, over
1000 were Han Chinese. Although Khenpo was never involved
in politics, his soaring influence on both Chinese and Tibetan
public disturbed Beijing, which was then bitterly smitten by
the Falun Gong. In August 2001, the People's Liberation
Army and Public Security Bureau marched into Larung Gar
and demolished over 2000 cottages and evicted thousands of
members including all Han disciples on the grounds of
security problems. A ceiling of 1400 monks and 500 nuns at
one time was imposed and Sertar was closed to foreign
visitors. Soon after that Khenpo was hospitalised in Chengdu
for his deteriorating health.
The community at Larung Gar continued under the
supervision   of   Khenpo's   senior   disciples,   with   frequent
 skirmishes between members and the PSB who were residing
there. In autumn, 2002, Khenpo returned to Larung Gar, still
suffering from failing health. Upon his return, the nomadic
people from surrounding regions flocked again in spite of
Chinese restrictions. Although the scar left by the Chinese
crackdown on both the landscape and peoples' mind was still
very fresh and clear, Larung Gar revived to full life. His health
very weak and voice very frail, Khenpo Jigphun resumed
teaching an audience of over seven thousand people.
Disseminating the words of the Buddha was his mission in
life and this he did until his last breath. By doing so, Khenpo
has left an indelible mark on the history of Buddhism and the
Nyingma tradition in particular.
In a press conference in Washington, Khenpo was asked the
purpose of the long and tiring journey he made from his
remote hermitage in Kham to the US. Khenpo plainly replied,
"to bring peace and happiness to the people". Asked how he
was going to achieve this, Khenpo said unpretentiously, "I ask
people to develop a kind and compassionate heart". To
another journalist who asked what Khenpo would do if he
were depressed, Khenpo candidly replied, "Whether I am
happy or sad, I pray to the Three Jewels". So great a master
and so simple a message, thousands of people the world over
pray for his swift reincarnation.
A Song of an Adventitious Traveller A Discourse to the Religious
King of Bhutan
^•^•rT|3:-|,-q^3:-'ij^i-;Ti%Ti's^^| |BiTp^q'i^'q^^WTi%Tiy=;^q| |
^|^Trq^-q|^-^-q>5^-q-<H]| i^w^^^'TO-q^^^i i
May Padmasambhava, who is the embodiment of the
benevolence of all Buddhas and the one singly heroic in
destroying the misfortunes of degenerate age, along with his
line of saints, bless Your Majesty.
 ^•^•^•^q^g-q^^-^^^^'^ |qq^-^-|r^^^-q^Tl*rq;gj' i
TO-^-^i^f^-^^q^w|R| |S^i'^3:'^'R^rq'^',iJ'Sic;'^'§T |
The glory of the ruling Monarch is higher than the sky. The
people live in freedom, peace and righteousness. Everyone
enjoys the beneficence of profound Mahayana. It is very
joyous to be in this Buddhist kingdom.
^q-qg^j-q^-r^-qq-q^rj-s^-^j |^-c-qrf^-3j-6&sq-^^-2^-q^| j
The white round snow mountain is indeed magnificent, but
the bitter-sweet light of the friend is not reliable. Should the
rays from the west embrace it for long, it will be reduced to a
mass of water.
^^•Ti^-TO-q^-Sf^-^-q^^-^-i ia'^^^'^'^'^|t<3'?R'^J| |
If the cloud of blessings is obtained through the meditative
practice of Padmasambhava, the essence of Three Jewels, and
the supreme deity Vajrakila, the majestic mountain will
endure until the end of the world.
q^^^^i-^^i's^'Si'Si^'g^i p'^'^^i'f,s;i^i'W'3i'^c;'q^'lc;'s;i^'c;'T|q| i
Due to the force of terrible incidents of the past, should a srog
bdag spirit become a threat to life, it is hard to find in this
world a savorr other than the gem of mankind, the heart
emanation of Majushri.
 ^^'^f^'^^'^^'ff^'3^'!^! |^'q^'%^q'l^rrq<£^q'^| i
g'3:^i'g^q^Ti^i^q'$s^i'^=;'3:| ^•^•^w^^^'iq^^'Y^I i
If the golden victory banner of Kagyu teachings, on the tip of
which rests the wish fulfilling jewel of the Nyingma, is held
high, the virtues of both spiritual and secular endeavours will
increase like the waxing moon.
^'q^'^r^w^'^'q^'^Y^'l iqTi^'^^gq-^'S'sq's^'^'^ni i
Through the power of the truth of the Three Jewels and of my
sincere affection, may the good increase spontaneously and
the auspiciousness, which pacifies all adversities, bless this
^qTi ||
These seven verses concurring with the seven jewels of a
universal monarch were written just as they appeared in the
vision of Ngawang Lodoe Tshungme, during his meeting with
the King of Bhutan and his retinue at a yang 'dul temple of
the religious emperor Songtsen Gampo, on the 22nd of 7th
month, Iron-Horse Year of 17th Rabjung. The scribe was
Khenpo Sod Dargay.
Jigs med Phun tshogs Jung gnas (2002), Chos rje dam pa
yid bzhin nor bu 'jigs med phun tshogs T)yung gnas dpal
bzang po'i gsung T)um, Serta: gSer ljong Bla ma rung INga
rigs Nang bstan Slob gling, vol. Ill, pp. 111-2


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